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Tuesday, 11 August 2015
Page: 4974

Senator LAZARUS (Queensland) (16:43): I rise to contribute to the discussion on this disallowance motion. I am supporting the disallowance of the Family Law (Fees) Amendment (2015 Measures No. 1) Regulation 2015 for a number of reasons. Firstly, the Abbott government has no mandate to increase the cost of Family Court fees. Unless I am mistaken, the Abbott government made no mention of these proposed increases in their 2013 suite of federal election campaign policies. If they were there, while Bronnie was flying around in her taxpayer funded helicopter, perhaps a set of campaign policy manuals relating to Family Court fees was misplaced during flight. Or perhaps the Family Law Court fee increase policy was also included in the GP co-payment and higher education deregulation folder, and the whole lot went missing during the flight. Regardless, the Family Law Court fee increases were never presented to the people of Australia for consideration as part of the election and so, therefore, the Abbott government has no mandate to increase these fees.

Secondly, the Abbott government has no parliamentary support to increase the Family Law Court fees. In fact, the Abbott government is effectively going against the wishes of the Australian parliament and the people of Australia by increasing the court fees through regulation—again. As we know, the government has already tried to increase Family Law Court fees and had this regulation disallowed by the Senate. Now, despite this, the Abbott government has ignored the will of the Senate by introducing new regulations which are effectively a complete copy of the original regulations. Perhaps the government is going for a trifecta; who knows? But again it is up to the crossbench, the Labor Party and the Greens to keep the government to account. Through our disallowance motion today we will be able to ensure the government does not implement another nasty budget measure which will only hurt disadvantaged and vulnerable Australians.

Thirdly, and finally, the Abbott government has no right nor need to increase Family Law Court fees. If anything, our court system needs support—not fee increase hikes. The court system should be a place where the people can resolve issues in a fair, accessible and transparent manner. Increasing Family Law Court fees will only hinder access to fair and reasonable issue resolution outcomes for Australians.

It is for all of these reasons that I am co-sponsoring this motion. I call on all of my Senate colleagues to assist me in rolling back these Family Law Court fee increases.